Buddhist Philosophy/Glossary

Buddhist Philosophy

  1. Introduction
  2. Details
  3. Meditation
  4. Mindfulness
  5. Sutra
  6. Schools
  7. Esoteric Buddhism
  8. Yinyana
  9. Developments
  10. Glossary
  11. Quips
  12. References and Links

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Contents: Top - 0–9 A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z



Arisings - What comes up in meditation or disturbs ones stream of consciousness.

Amitaba - A Buddha venerated by all Mahayana schools, particularly Pure Land. Represents the True Mind. Alternately spelled "Amitahba".

Anatta - A state where no soul or consciousness exists.

Arahat - Buddhist equivalent of a saint. One who has attained liberation from cyclic existence. Alternately spelled "arhat".

Avalokitesvara - Buddhist embodiment of compassion. Kwan Yin. Chenresig. Dalai Lama.

Attachment - Root cause of suffering

Buddha Nature - The potential of any sentient being which permits them to attain Buddhahood.

Buddha - "The Awakened One". "The Enlightened one".

Bardo - The intermediate existence between death and the next rebirth.

Bhikkhu - Mendicant/A male ordained into the Buddhist order. A monk.

Bhikkhuni - Female equivalent of "Bhikkhu". A female ordained into the Buddhist order. A nun.

Bodhi - Perfect knowledge or wisdom.


Bodhisattva - Anyone who has the aspiration to save oneself and others.

Causality - the notion that indicates the apparent nature of things - one or more phenomena are caused by one or more phenomena, and cause themselves one or more phenomena. Any phenomena appears to have causes and effects. See Dependant Arising and Emptiness below.

Citta - Mind or heart, the terms being synonymous in Buddhism.


Conventional Truth - This indicates that the notions and objects and generally all phenomena is only conventional, it ultimately does not exist. But in order to explain this to beings that rely on notions and objects, it is necessary to use notions and objects. Therefore, as a base to understanding the lack of an established nature for all phenomena, it is said that the phenomena exist - but only as conventions between beings, as learned habits of interpretation of perceptions and memories. See Causality, Dependant Arising, Emptiness on this page.

Dana - giving, gift, alms-giving, alms, generosity, charity, benevolence, liberality, donation.

Dharini - Extended mantra used in esoteric branch of Buddhism .


Dependant Arising - indicates that any phenomena that appears to exist arises in dependence with causes (and conditions, which can be seen as causes as well). This proves that none of the objects, beings, notions, perceptions, etc. we consider to exist has an established existence, but it is a non-separable "part" of a "flow" that is the whole Existence. The notions of "part", "flow" and "Existence" are also subject to this dependent arising. There is no single phenomena that can be established independently, completely separate from all other phenomena. See Causality and Emptiness on this page.

Deva - A shining one, god, deity

Dharma - The Doctrine, The Law, nature, the Truth.

Dukkha - Suffering, misery, woe, pain, ill, sorrow, trouble, discomfort, unsatisfactoriness

Dhyana - The practice of concentration.

Diamond Sutra - part of the Prajnaparamita Sutra shows that all phenomenal appearances are not ultimate reality but rather illusions, projections of one's own mind.

Emptiness - in the Buddhist context, corresponds to the Sanskrit word "shunyata". It indicates the fundamental nature of all phenomena, which are empty of any conceivable notions and characteristics. It indicates that ALL that appears to exist is void of ANY kind of existence. For the humans' sake, in order to make this notion more understandable, it is sometimes said that the Reality exists only as a concept in a being's mind - which is somewhat similar to saying it doesn't exist at all in any way that one may believe it exists. In the human world this can be easily proved by observing that all phenomena are causally determined by others, and their form and/or status is defined in relationship with others, and so on, without being able to determine a single phenomena which can serve as an independent base for definitions. See Causality and Dependant Arising above.

Jhana - meditation, trance, ecstasy, absorption, a state of serene contemplation attained by meditation.

Jnana - trancendental, non-conceptual wisdom.

Karma - Movement of the mind, producing actions of body, speech or thought

Kalpa - An aeon, world cycle.

Lobha - Greed, covetousness.

Loka - the World, a world, plane of existence.

Mantra - literally: "thing that protects the mind". A sequence of syllables for training the mind and meditating on Buddhas/Bodhisattvas, and in esoteric teachings, for shaping the flow of the subtle winds (prana) in some forms of yoga.

Metta - Loving kindness,good will, friendliness.

Nirvana - the extinction of the fires of greed, hatred and ignorance. A state of having destroyed all kleshas.

Non-duality - the real nature of things. The impossibility to establish ANY phenomena as separate and independent, and therefore to separate completely one "this" and one "other", without finding any common cause or a link between them, no matter how deep we search.

Non-self - the notions of Emptiness and Dependent Arising also apply to what we consider to be our "self". This self is also causally determined by causes in the past. Moreover, the non-duality can also be applied to the selves. This finding is particular to the Buddhist religion, and a central point in its Doctrine. It is the finding that destroys egoism, since this is based on the concept of self, which is invalid. Greed and hatred are also useless since they have no base to rely on.

Pali Canon - Form of agreed written tradition constructed 400 years after Buddhas death from oral stories , comprising the Vinaya Pitaka, Sutta Pitaka and Abhidamma pitaka.

Papa - evil, wrong action, demerit, bad.

Paramita - Perfection, lit. "that which carries/ferries across".

Prajna - Conceptual wisdom.

Puja- worship (external and mental, honour, veneration, homage, devotional offering.

Ratanattaya - the Triple Gem, the Three Jewels: Buddha, Dharma, Sangha.

Rigpa - the primordial, nondual awareness described in Dzogchen instruction.

Rupa - matter, form, material body, shape, appearance, corporeality.

Shraddha - faith, confidence.

Sala - preaching hall or room

Samadhi - Concentration, contemplation, absorption.

Samsara - the Round of Rebirth, Cycle of Existence, the Suffering.

Sangha - Community of monks.

Sila - Morality.

Tantra - Esoteric Buddhism.

Tathagata - Thus gone one. Appellation for Buddha Shakyamuni.

Two Truths

Ultimate Truth

Upadana - attachment, clinging.

Upasaka - male lay follower of buddhism.

Upasika - female equivalent of 'Upasaka'.

Vedana - sensation, feeling.

Vihara - A monastery, temple.

Vinaya - "Discipline". That (behavior, rules etc.) which is conducive to dispelling Samsara.

Vipassana - insight intuitive vision, introspection, contemplation, insight development.

Viriya- effort, energy, vigour, endeavour, exertion.

Wat (Thai) - Monastery, temple.